Wellington’s Global Dressage Festival Proposes Major Upgrade of 2015 Winter Schedule, More Prize Money Likely

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Global Dressage Festival grounds with grass jumper derby field (top right) at Palm Beach International Equestrian Center. © Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com
Global Dressage Festival grounds with grass jumper derby field (top right) at Palm Beach International Equestrian Center. © Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

By KENNETH J. BRADDICK

WELLINGTON, Florida, Mar. 29, 2014–Florida’s Global Dressage Festival that has become the world’s most successful and richest winter dressage circuit in just three years is proposing a big increase in prize money and a major revamp of the 2015 schedule to offer back-to-back big money Grand Prix in February to attract more riders from Europe and the West Coast of the United States.

Adequan, the inaugural title sponsor of GDF when it was launched three years ago as a new multimillion dollar complex that is part of Palm Beach International Equestrian Center, told dressage-news.com Friday it plans to sign up for another three years.

The sponsorship deal for the first term was believed to be $150,000 a year.

And the company that has become an enthusiastic supporter of dressage has signed on as a sponsor of the Central Park Celebration of dressage and jumping in the heart of New York City in September.

Prize money for the 12-week circuit of seven CDIs plus national competitions in 2015 is expected to increase by about 10 per cent to approach $650,000 (€473,000) from the total of $580,000 (€422,000) in 2014.

The dressage complex itself will also undergo a major makeover–a building of more than 200 permanent stables will be added to the two structures of 100 stalls in each while “national” arenas that have the same world class footing as the main international stadium will be realigned to increase to four from three the number of competiton arenas along with three warmup rings.

Improved lighting will be installed in the central competition arena for the popular Friday night Freestyles.

The Van Kampen covered arena, one of the largest covered equestrian spaces in the United States that was formally dedicated Friday night, will be available for shows for the first time with the end of governmental and legal challenges that have hobbled use of the complex.

The major proposed change in the calendar that has to be approved by both the U.S. Equestrian Federation and the International Equestrian Federation (FEI) deals with the CDI4* and CDI5* competitions that together offered about $270,000 in prize money for just those two CDIS this year but were held six weeks apart.

According to a draft schedule disclosed to a meeting of riders Friday the two events would be held Feb. 5-8 and Feb. 12-15 in 2015 with prize money likely to be greater than in 2014.

The aim is to lure top riders from around the world during a lull in Western Europe’s winter schedule.

The hope also is to rationalize dates with organizers of California organizers that have traditionally staged a CDI in Los Angeles in mid-February.

The 2015 CDI schedule drafted by Equestrian Sport Productions, organizers of the Global Dressage Festival, is:

-Jan. 8-11–$50,000 CDI-W World Cup qualifier;
-Jan. 22-25-$50,000 CDI World Cup qualifier;
-Feb. 5-8-$140,000-plus CDI5*;
-Feb. 12-15-$130,000-plus CDI4*;
-Mar. 5-8-$50,000 Palm Beach Dressage Derby World Cup qualifier;
-Mar. 12-15-$50,000 World Cup qualifier, and
-Mar. 24-29-$50,000 CDIO3* Nations Cup.

In the three years since GDF was founded, dressage-news.com calculated, CDI entries increased 120 per cent in 2014 over 2013 and almost 200 per cent over the founding year of 2012.

Indications are that 2015 will also produce a big increase.

In addition to riders from 30 countries that participated in GDF in 2014, many Central and South American nations will, for the first time, send teams to prepare for the 2015 Pan American Games to be held in Toronto.

Another growth spurt is expected in 2016 when the Olympic Games are held in South America for the first time, in Rio de Janeiro, and teams from around the world are expected to use the Wellington show grounds as staging shows for their Games prearations.